Asteroid to fly by Earth today as NASA prepares to monitor ‘near’ approach

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An asteroid is set to fly past Earth today, and NASA is keeping a look out for it.

It looks like the space rock will fly past the planet at a distance of 429,846 miles, around 200,000 miles further away than the Moon is to Earth on average.

The space rock is travelling at an impressive speed of 5.2km per second, the equivalent of almost 19,000km per hour (11,807mph).

It is only around six metres wide according to observations from NASA and if it impacted the Earth it would simply burn up in the atmosphere of the planet, appearing as if it were a shooting star.

After flying past Earth the rock, named 2020 WC4, will continue on its voyage around the Sun, the Express Online reports.

NASA has classified it as a near Earth object (NEO), which allows them to study what is out there in the Solar System.

The organisation said: "NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth's neighbourhood.

"The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.

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"The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) formed an agglomeration of billions of comets and the left over bits and pieces from the formation process are the comets we see today."

A recent study revealed that Earth is not safe from asteroids, with one in particular – the huge Apophis – posing a threat.

Last month, an astronomer revealed the 370-metre wide space rock could still hit our planet.

Scientists had initially ruled out a collision in 2068, but research shows there is a small chance – roughly one in 530,000 – that the asteroid could hit Earth.

  • Asteroids
  • Nasa

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